'Pro-Life' must extend beyond the womb

'Pro-Life' must extend beyond the womb
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Mujtaba al-Sweika, a teenager, was at the airport in Riyadh, on his way to the University of Michigan, to begin his college studies when he was arrested. He was subsequently tried and sentenced to death. His crime: having posted photographs of a pro-democracy demonstration on his Facebook, and participating, with 13 others, in a peaceful protest. Last month, he was one of 37 prisoners executed — by decapitation — by the Saudi government.

I was deeply affected by the news. In August 2017, I had organized a letter, co-authored by ten Nobel Peace Prize laureates — including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former President of Timor-Leste José Ramos-Horta — asking Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, King of Saudi Arabia, and Mohammad bin Salman Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to extend the hand of mercy and stay the execution of these young boys. The letter with the signatures was hand delivered to the Saudi UN Ambassador.

We had every reason to believe that the letter had been delivered directly to the Saudi Royals. We never received a response.


The United Nations swiftly condemned the deaths, as did the UK and other nations. There was not a word from the U.S. administration. Fox News reported the Saudi Interior Ministry’s version of the event, saying that “People in the executed group allegedly embraced extremist ideologies and started terrorist cells.” The “extremist ideologies” that Fox didn’t mention included democracy, freedom of religion, and the freedom to post their views and peaceful activities on social media.

Four days later, President TrumpDonald John TrumpCuomo grilled by brother about running for president: 'No. no' Maxine Waters unleashes over Trump COVID-19 response: 'Stop congratulating yourself! You're a failure' Meadows resigns from Congress, heads to White House MORE expressed his deep respect for human life — in the form of an unborn child. He escalated the attack on abortion to include Wisconsin’s Democratic governor, who had vetoed a Republican bill that could send doctors to prison for life if they fail to give medical care to children born alive, saying “The baby is born. The mother meets with the doctor. They take care of the baby. They wrap the baby beautifully. And then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby.”

These are lies, and cruel lies at that. To kill a viable, healthy baby falls in the classification of infanticide, a fact that was reinforced by the passing of the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act by Congress in 2002. Late term abortions, which are rare, most commonly involve a fetus developing with severe anomalies on the scale medically considered “incompatible with life” (in other words, fatal), or extreme risk to the health and life of the mother resulting from the pregnancy. Shortly after, Alabama followed Georgia and Indiana in passing increasingly restrictive bills criminalizing abortion — in Alabama’s case, threatening doctors with 99 years in prison for performing the procedure.

Many Americans are struggling with abortion issues. The conversation to be had must be held with humanity and conscience, not used as a political football for votes. It must acknowledge the human agony and suffering endured by a family when a child of 12 or 14 has been the victim of rape or incest and now bears the child of her attacker, whose roof she may still be living under. It must recognize the suffering of a mother who finds out her child is developing without a brain and that she must make a gut-wrenching decision on the most humane route for her child to pass.

I have seen Evangelical Christians bring a terminally ill parent home from the hospital, forgoing potentially lifesaving treatments to leave events in the hands of Jesus. No one calls this an execution. No one boos them while waving candidate signs at a political rally. I have seen a dear friend dying of lung cancer screaming and writhing in pain in the final stages. A hospice nurse put extra vials of morphine on the table near her IV for her husband and left the house. He put them in her IV, laid down next to her, wrapped his arms around her as she calmed, and wept as she peacefully passed. No one publicly scorned him or accused him of murder.


While pointing and screaming at parents facing tragedy, a staggering number of the people who call themselves pro-life believe the Saudi government, who our President calls a great ally, was behind the murder and dismembering of journalist Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi, yet they say nothing. It is nearly impossible to be unaware of the fact that Donald Trump and his administration morally and materially support a war being waged in Yemen that has left more than 70,000 people — mothers, sons, and daughters — dead.

According to the World Food Programme, up to 14 million in Yemen are at risk of starvation as a result of Saudi Arabia’s blockade on food and medicine, carried out with equipment provided by the U.S.

UNICEF reported in November that a Yemeni child dies every 10 minutes from diseases that could easily be prevented.

Standing in front of a Planned Parenthood with a protest sign may give one a valuable sense of moral superiority. But doing so while turning away from the harsh and uncomfortable truths about political beheadings and mass murder by President Trump’s “great allies” does not qualify one as pro-life.

Strutting on stage and falsely claiming that gut-wrenching end of life decisions on the part of parents are executions of “living, feeling, beautiful babies, who will never get the chance to share their love and dreams with the world” does not display a convincing respect for life when Saudi teenagers beheaded for daring to dream of democracy and the children of Yemeni parents are politically and financially expendable. Yemeni children have love and dreams to share with the world, too. Mujtaba al-Sweika had a heartbeat.

Mary Wald is the founder of TheCommunity.com and a freelance writer and media producer in California. Her work is available at marywald.com